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Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Don't Let The Cabin Door Hit You On The Way Out

Two international air carriers insist that they will not comply with US requirements to have armed sky marshals on board designated flights:

The decisions by South African Airways and Thomas Cook Airlines, the charter flight arm of Europe’s second biggest travel firm, deepened a dispute over a move Washington sees as essential to outwitting al-Qaida and other extremist groups. ... German-owned Thomas Cook Airlines, which flies to Orlando, Fla., from Britain and also flies through U.S. airspace to the Caribbean, ruled out using marshals in any circumstances. “Thomas Cook Airlines has not changed its policy that if presented with a sky marshal on any of our routes, the flight would be canceled,” it said in a statement.

South African Airways, which has 28 return flights a week to Atlanta and New York, also said it would not for the time being meet U.S. demands.

Without trying to sound too jingoistic -- I'm sure that both airlines will survive nicely without its American business -- but if they don't want to meet US security standards, then they can keep their airlines out of our airspace and allow other carriers who take security more seriously to service passengers instead. After 9/11, we would have hoped that the entire global travel industry understood the necessity of having intervention possible if an airplane is hijacked and used as a guided missile against American or other Western targets. For the most part, they have understood and cooperated. Even the British pilots aren't refusing to comply, but are just asking for some clarifications and some rules:

“The fact that you have got people behind you in a pressurized cabin with guns and bullets is not a happy thought,” said a spokesman for the British Airline Pilots’ Association, which represents most of Britain’s 9,200 airline pilots. “But if the government persists, we want certain conditions laid down.”

That is not an unreasonable position to take. Thomas Cook and South African Airways are behaving as if 9/11 was fiction and 3,000 people dead is merely an error. Not only am I glad that these two Luddite Airways organizations won't soon be flying into our airspace, their attitude should cause some other nations to review their flight status as well. Terrorists aren't just targeting Americans, after all, and if the Islamofascists know that they can board a Thomas Cook flight and meet no meaningful resistance, you can bet that they will take advantage of that information one day, and soon.

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12:38 PM in War on Terror | Permalink


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Sounds like a perfectly good "market-based" solution to me. Flying to America now costs you (the carrier) X additional dollars and hassle.

If it is not worth it to you, don't fly the route.

Posted by: The Commissar at Jan 6, 2004 2:03:04 PM

I amm surprised airline pilots could be so misinformed about a modern jet liner's ability to withstand piercing by bullets of most calibers. Boeing executives discussed all of this at Congressional hearings on the subject. Among other things, fresh air is constantly circulated into and out of the cabin. Control valves appear to adjust for greater or larger inflows. As to structural stability: think about the Hawaii Airlines jet which managed to land safely with half its top sheared off!

Posted by: MG at Jan 6, 2004 2:44:23 PM

Man, if I was in competition with these guys I would have a field day with this from an advertising standpoint.

Shot: Interior of an office with suitably impressive wooden desk. A map of the world showing all of our routes in the background.

"Here at Carealot Airlines we want to let you know that your safety is our highest priority. Our job is to get you to your destination and back home. Some of our competitors don't want to allow armed air marshals on their flights to help prevent a terrorist attack on board their planes. We, on the other hand, welcome anything that will make sure our passengers are safe. We think you will appreciate that -- and we are sure your families will as well. Thank you."

Fade to logo.

Posted by: Zygote at Jan 6, 2004 6:16:18 PM